Fund inspired by Black Lives Matter to provide books about race to schools

5 June 2020, 16:14

School children
School children at Rosebank Primary School in Leeds meet author Bali Rai at a pop-up book fair, highlighting books by authors and illustrators of colour or those that feature BAME main characters. Picture: PA

A fundraiser set up to raise money for diverse children’s books in primary schools has reached over £6,000.

A fundraiser inspired by Black Lives Matter protests across the world aims to put diverse books into Britain’s primary schools.

The fund, which has raised over £6,000 since it was created on Wednesday, aims to help black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students to feel represented by their school libraries.

“There’s a lack of books in primary schools where not only can teachers teach the white students about these issues, but also the BAME students are severely under-represented in the books that they have,” Scott Emmons, who created the fund, told the PA news agency.

The initiative was inspired by protests that have taken place across the world calling for justice after the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

Mr Emmons, 34, who lives in Wanstead, told PA: “I went to the protest on Wednesday in Hyde Park and came away feeling so energised. There were so many people in Hyde Park who cared… there are so many people wanting to change, wanting to help.”

The fund will put bundles into libraries, which include 21 books for children aged three to 11, and include the stories of Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks.

In 2018, a report from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education revealed that over the course of the year, only 4% of children’s books published in the UK had a BAME hero.

“If there’s no literature there to start this conversation, and white teachers find it difficult to speak about, then these are the tools that allow you to have that conversation,” Mr Emmons told PA.

Desmond Tutu
Desmond and the Very Mean Word by Desmond Tutu is one of the books Scotty Emmons is hoping to fund (Chris Radburn/PA)

Mr Emmons explained that he would like the initiative to go further than the GoFundMe page he has created, with the hope of schools tailoring the books to fit their own schools’ needs.

He said: “The idea for this campaign is not to pay for everyone’s books, it’s to be that driving force and that spark to put pressure on schools to get these books in and allow the children in their classrooms to see themselves represented.

“It isn’t just a case of a lack of funding… a lot of the schools do have the funding; they’re just not prioritising correctly. They’re not purchasing the right books.”

To see the page’s donations, visit http://gofundme.com/f/help-our-children-read-about-race

By Press Association

Happening Now